The Gianluigi Porelli EuroLeague Executive of the Year Trophy was awarded on Thursday to Alper Yilmaz, the general director of Anadolu Efes Istanbul, who received his honor during the ECA Shareholders Meeting held in Barcelona.
Yilmaz was selected by his peers across the continent as the best executive of the just-completed Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season, which his team finished as champions for the first time in club history. After building a team that went from worst to the runner-up in 2018-19 and soared atop the standings during the incompleted 2019-20 season, Yilmaz kept nearly the entire roster intact for 2020-21 as Efes made history by ascending to the EuroLeague throne.
The Executive of the Year award honors the person and club whose management decisions have best exemplified the EuroLeague's commitment to excellence in all facets of club direction during the previous season. Among the categories considered before casting votes are sporting merits, fan experience, and marketing and communications. Efes was recognized with Euroleague Basketball's Silver Marketing Award earlier on Thursday.
In addition to Efes's on-court achievements, the club remained hard at work during the pandemic to offer its fans as close to an in-arena experience as possible from the comfort of their homes. The Anadolu Efes Sports Club Digital Stands used video technology to create a game-like atmosphere that allowed fans' live cheering and reactions to the action to be seen at Sinan Erdem Arena and on live broadcasts of the game.
Efes also introduced Anadolu Efes Studio, which live-streamed 90 minutes of pregame activities for home games during the season on Twitter and YouTube, including a live background shot of the team warming up while the host and his guests discussed the upcoming game. The guests ranged from basketball players and other athletes to celebrities, including actors, gamers, musicians, famous chefs and more. There were special episodes for New Year's Eve, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, marking 25 years since the team's triumph in the Korac Cup, and a EuroLeague Playoffs special. The program's 20 episodes had more than 9 million views during the season.
Yilmaz, 46, spent six seasons as a player for Efes at the start of the century. As a shooting guard, he also suited up for Turk Telekom Ankara, Tofas Bursa, Beykoz and Erdemirspor as well as the Turkish national team. After retiring as a player in 2009, Yilmaz was appointed Efes's sports director and was promoted to general director in 2015. In the time since then, the team's 114 victories are fourth-most among EuroLeague teams.
The Gianluigi Porelli EuroLeague Executive of the Year has been awarded annually since 2005 and is one of the competition's two annual post-season honors, along with the Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year Trophy, which was recently won by Ergin Ataman of Efes. The executive award recognizes those whose efforts build Turkish Airlines EuroLeague clubs into success stories. Mr. Porelli, who served as president of Virtus Bologna for more than two decades, was among the founders of ULEB and later its president. He passed away in 2009.